Public Funding for Art: Chicago Compared with 12 Peer Regions

June, 2014

Supported in part by Arts Alliance Illinois, and with the cooperation of several local arts agencies, including Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs and Special events, and of the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies.

This study compares the direct public dollars received by organizations and artists in Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Columbus, Denver, Houston, Miami, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland (OR), San Diego, and San Francisco from 2002-2012.

Often, studies of public funding for the arts look at appropriations made on the national and state levels and estimates of local expenditures, but this report delves more deeply using grant-level data to examine the dollars received by organizations and artists resident in each city or region.

Key findings:

  • In 2012, Chicago arts organizations received $7.3 million in public dollars via competitive grants from local, state, and national public arts agencies combined. Only three of the 13 regions studied received more total dollars in 2012.
  • Though Chicago arts organizations receive among the greatest amounts of public funding in total, a relatively small portion comes from the city's Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. Of the competitive arts grants dollars received in Chicago in 2012, 59% came from the Illinois Arts Council, 24% from the National Endowment for the Arts, and 17% from the city's Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. For most cities/regions in our study, excluding Chicago, the majority of public grant dollars received by not-for-profits in the area for arts programming came from their local arts agency in 2012. For example, in 2012, San Diego received 93% of its public funding from the local level, 2% from the state level, and 4% from the federal level.
  • DCASE's funding levels have been among the lowest of the 13 cities/regions studied on both a per capita basis, and in terms of total dollars, over the past decade (2002-2012). In 2012, Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events awarded $1.2 million in grants, which is $0.44 per capita. Of the 13 local agencies analyzed, only Phoenix, Boston, and Baltimore spent less in total dollar or per capita terms in 2012.
  • Over the past decade, DCASE annually awarded among the highest total number of grants compared with other regions' local agencies. In 2012, DCASE awarded 520 grants in total — 305 to organizations and 215 to individuals. In 2012, it awarded competitive grants to approximately 31% of the arts and cultural organizations in the city.
  • Aside from competitive grants, five of the 13 cities/metro regions included in this study provide support to select arts and cultural organizations through line-items, which serve as significant sources of general operating funds.

Press coverage

Press release: Local Public Grants for Art in Chicago Relatively Low, New Report Finds

Cleveland Plain Dealer: Public arts funding in Cuyahoga County tops 13 U.S. metros in a University of Chicago study

Chicago Tribune: Arts funding study: Chicago 10th of 13 cities

Urban Network: The Recession and Public Funding for the Arts in 13 Cities

The Tennessean: Nashville arts strategy envisions more money, deeper reach

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